Tuesday, September 6, 2011

NFL 32 in 32: Baltimore Ravens

In the John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco era, they have made the playoffs in all 3 seasons, and won at least one game in every trip to the playoffs. But in the last 2 seasons, they have failed to get beyond the divisional round. How much longer will it take for the Ravens to get over the hump?

What's New: There are a pretty decent number of changes on the Ravens roster. Gone are many offensive stalwarts such as TE Todd Heap, WR Derrick Mason, RB Willis McGahee, and FB Le'Ron McClain, and the replacements for these losses include, WR Lee Evans from Buffalo, FB Vonta Leach from Houston, who may be the best blocking fullback in the league, and RB Ricky Williams from Miami. They also lost players on the offensive line, in G/C Chris Chester, and LT Jared Gaither. However, they did sign OT Bryant McKinnie in order to stem some of these losses. They also lost players on defense too, and they include NT Kelly Gregg, SS Dawan Landry, and CB Josh Wilson. In to replace some of these losses, they drafted CB Jimmy Smith from Colorado, and picked up corner Chris Carr as well. 

Biggest Strength: Joe Flacco is a very consistent, very efficient QB, who can make all the throws he needs to and has to, and has been a proven winner, which the Ravens never really had. He has a good running game with Ray Rice and Ricky Williams, and a great pair of receivers in Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans. The offense should prove to be more dynamic than last year, even though they lost a decent amount of pieces from a year ago. The defense as always is a strength, and the front 7 is very good, with amazing depth as always. The heart and soul of the Ravens has been this front 7, and it will continue to be this season.

Biggest Weakness: Their offensive line is newer, and has some depth issues. Even though the unit is very good at the top, depth could become an issue if injuries become prominent. The secondary was a problem last year, and it could also create some problems this season too, because of the losses in free agency. The secondary still has good talent, but it could be the undoing of the Ravens this season.

Outlook: The Ravens still are a very good team, but there are some issues that need to be tended to. The Ravens have to compete with the Steelers, and it will be a tough fight. The Ravens should still be able to make the playoffs and challenge many of the AFC's elite, but their small faults may be their own undoing.

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